First impressions of New Zealand
Auckland Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
New Zealand equals paradise.
It's that easy! Having said that, I'll give you some insights on how I've spend my days here so far.
Like I wrote before, I arrived in Auckland and stayed in the City Garden Lodge in Parnell. This is an absolutely wonderful hostel that makes you feel at home right away. (For more info: check my review). Auckland is not a very special city: it's just another city. The Skytower, the landmarkt of Auckland (being just 2 meters higher than the Eifel Tower), is a wonderful piece of architecture and the views from the top are amazing. The harbour area is pretty nice, but there not so much to see in the city. New Zealand really makes up for their cities with the nature. In Auckland you can do very nice walks through The Domain. My best day in Auckland, I've spend on the vulcanic island Rangitoto, where nobody lives and nature is all there is. The walk to the summit is wonderful, especially if you take the longer way up around the crater, a tiny path through the jungle with wonderful views over Auckland and the surrounding islands.
After Auckland I left for Paihia in the Bay Of Islands. I travel by Stray Bus, which is pretty nice so far. They make some excelent stops and try to avoid the beaten track. After hugging huge Kauri trees, wandering through a gum forrest and checking out some views, I arrived in Paihia. The little town is not that special, but the view from the beach is absolutely wonderful. I rented a kayak and did a full day of island hopping, paddleling from one deserted island to the other. Also I landed at the treaty site where NZ history began and in Russell, the hellhole of the Pacific, as they like to call it. The little town is actually very upclass nowadays. Sodom and Gomorra days are over. In the evening I accidentily crashed into a bachelor party. The group of guys from Whangarei (which is pretty close to Paihia) offered me a beer because I had to move from one from to another, because the hostel (BASE Pipi Patch) double booked the room. Before I knew it I was full into the party and had a great night.
Now, I'm back in Auckland again for two days, before I head South.
Finally my first message from abroad and even now time is short since I'm working on a computer with a time clock on it. So, in short:
My big around the world journey started out quite bad, since it started with a minor food poisening. No, not from eating from street stalls in Hong Kong, but because of the going-away-dinner at a local Italian restaurant in my own home town! So, the day I left I felt miserable, sick, depressed and I didn't even feel like going. Thank god this all ended before my flight took off.
After filling in all the health and immigration forms at customs, I though I'd find my own way to my hostel instead of listening to the route provided by the hostel. After 2 metro rides and a crazy bus ride through the crazy Hong Kong traffic, I was dropped of at Nathan Rd. Too bad Nathan Road is several kilometers long and I didn't know where to be. Everybody I asked had never heard of the hostel or even the building. Finally I arrived in an old communistic-China looking flat with a narrow entrance with two security guards at the door. After ending up at the wrong floor in an sort of USSR fitness school, I finally found my hostel, Hakkas Guesthouse, owned by a very nice man, Kevin Koo, who helped me a lot over my days in HK.
The city is an amazing combination of high tech and old China. On Hong Kong Island Center you;'re walking among the skyscrapers, wide avenues, fast and and good metro systems, but in Soho you stroll trough the narrow alleys filled with food stalls where fish were cut open alive, vegetables were freshly roasted and ancient Chinese men and women are weighing the goods on rustly hand scales. For me, experiencing the old China, was the best part of Hong Kong. Walking over that market, having an eel crawling at you're feet before he's being put back in his waterless basket again: priceless. This is also a very good place to eat with the locals on one of the little terraces. Most of them don't have English menus, but since you can almost touch the ingredients from your table, communication is no problem. The night market on Temple Street in Kowloon is also great, not the part where they sell fake electronics and items alike, but the part with all the terasses.
Another fantastic part of Hong Kong is Lantau: one of the Outlying Islands, easely reached by metro from the center or Tsim Cha Tsui. Main attraction is the enourmous buddah statue on a hill.Really amazing to see. The temple across the square was truely amazing too, but very touristic. Parts of the island most visiters skip are the Path Of Wisdom and Tai O. Because the Path Of Wisdom is less touristic, this gives you a nice break from all the HK hectics. Walk past the Path a little further and sit on a cliff, watching out over the bay while the sun sets. So simple, but one of the better moments of my visit. Tai O is a little fishing village, simply reachable by bus from the Buddah. Especially the narrow alleys between the pole houses are a real experience. The place is becoming more touristic, but most villagers are minding there own business, wondering what all these people are coming to see.
I also did a day trip to Macau, a self controlled region of China, just like Hong Kong. You can reach the country very simple by ferry, although you should plan in an hour of waiting at the border. The country is devided in two parts: the old colonial Portugese part and the new Las Vegas of the East-part. In the old part I really felt like being in Europe. The pastel coloured houses and churches painted a wonderful image of the city. The cassino part is something you should have experienced, but I got annoyed pretty quickly by all the flashy lights and loud sounds. The interiours of the cassinos are worth a visit though.
Arrived In New Zealand
This morning I landed in Auckland and took a shuttle bus to my hostel in Parnell, a little upclass suburb of Auckland. The shuttle took over an hour to get there, because be was dropping off all other passengers before me, so now I've already seen the whole Auckland region. The hostel I'm staying in, City Garden Lodge, is housed in a wonderful colonial villa with a garden. The atmosphere is good and the neighbourhood is wonderful. Today I stayed in Parnell and surroundings, because I hardly slept on my flight to NZ and because it's raining softly all day. The Temperature is good though: about 20 degrees.
Please do forgive me for the many typing and spelling mistakes, but I just don't have the time to check twice. I'll add information and names later.